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As we look back to the 2024 edition of Intercultural Week, hosted by the Durban University of Technology through it’s International Education and Partnerships Directorate (IEP), in collaboration with innobiz DUT, entered its last few days, the traveling party from the Hochschule Flensburg University of Applied Sciences, in Germany, enjoyed a tour of the innobiz DUT Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation facilities at the Indumiso Campus and a visit to the Ekukhanyeni Special School, a longstanding community partner of the Centre. Before the tour of the Centre, Ms. Ntokozo Ngcobo, innobiz DUT Centre Manager, gave a warm welcome to the visitors to DUT’s Indumiso Campus, located in the heart of the Imbali Township.

Ms. Ngcobo further touched on how such engagements and initiatives, through the IEP, can only yield positive returns, to which she highlighted some of the following items that were identified as the medium to strengthen such partnerships:

Intercultural Learning: innobiz DUT’s focus on South Africa’s entrepreneurial landscape, particularly in bridging the gap between the formal and informal sectors, offers a unique learning opportunity for Flensburg students. Events like the Intercultural Week provide a platform for students to exchange ideas and gain insights into diverse economic realities.
Building Networks: innobiz DUT’s network of mentors, experts, and organisation can be a valuable resource for Flensburg students seeking international business connections. This fosters collaboration and potential joint ventures between South African and German entrepreneurs.
Innovation Exchange: innobiz DUT’s emphasis on innovation aligns with Flensburg’s potential expertise in areas like business informatics. Joint research projects or student competitions focused on innovative solutions can be a fruitful outcome of collaboration.

The tour of the Centre’s facilities saw many of the visiting German entourage wax lyrical about the state-of-the-art facilities that the Centre had to offer, including the Centre’s Tech Hub, Innovation Hub and the Agri Hub where the visitors planted seeds. The tour further served as an illustration of the University’s commitment to producing innovative and adaptive graduates, as these are the creative spaces that the DUT community utilise to innovate and grow their business venture. To kickstart the tour, Ms. Ngcobo took them through the Centre’s office space, which captures its journey from its infancy to where it is today. She further explained how the Centre’s programmes and activities are aligned to the University’s philosophy statement which reads,” Our creativity and innovation, shapes adaptive graduates who transform society”.

Professor Thomas Schmidt, leading the Hochschule Flensburg contingent, commended the location of the University and the Centre in the heart of the community where they made an impact in the surrounding communities, which also includes informal settlements.

“It is quite an interesting place, and also state of the art as it should be done, very nice looking and my students were saying it would be nice if Flensburg could look like this,” Professor Schmidt said commending the Centre’s modern facilities.

The visit from the Flensburg University team was a clear example of DUT’s ENVISION2030 commitment to having a society that leads to mutually beneficial collaborations, and the practical application of knowledge and future ready graduates while being an engaged university with engaged and productive global citizens that establish mutually beneficial partnerships. This initiative has specific emphasis on the “Society” perspective of the strategy; which focuses on DUT’s impact on society, both locally and globally.

The University’s commitment towards producing adaptive graduates are further illustrated through creative interventions, and space, like innobiz, which is further found in one of commonly referenced speeches from the DUT’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Thandwa Mthembu where he states, “We are, indeed, fundamentally creative. We approach all that we do with a spirit of innovation, with an entrepreneurial mindset, and with a burning desire to find new solutions, to innovate, to create opportunities out of societal problems, and to apply our collective knowledge and skills, creativity and innovations, in unique and exciting ways. All of the above is coded in our DNA; the source of our collective being; the source of all we will still become.”

Next up, was a visit to Ekukhanyeni Special School, located a stone’s throw away from DUT’s Indumiso Campus, which was part of the first 10 schools to be adopted under the Adopt-A-School programme, an initiative of the innobiz DUT Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“Our relationship with Ekukhanyeni started 2021 through the Adopt-A-School programme and the school has participated in all the Community Engagement programmes, including the Train the Trainer programme, Sprouting Entrepreneurs, Agri For Kids, and Entrepreneurship For Kids,” Mr. Khothatso Memela explained.
Another key aspect was the work that the Centre did in collaboration with the school’s teachers where innobiz capacitates the teachers, therefore enabling them to be adept at teaching entrepreneurship.

“We also collaborate with the teachers to find creative ways to link entrepreneurship education to the CAPS (Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements) curriculum” Mr. Memela said, shedding more light on the relationship shared between the Centre and Ekukhanyeni.

Mr. Memela went on to explain that Ekukhanyeni had been a regular participant and exhibitor at innobiz’s Student Entrepreneurship Week where they have made sales, exposed and advertised the work produced by the learners in the school.

Amongst some of the programmes on offer at the school include computer courses, woodwork, carpentry, leatherwork, arts and crafts, needlework, sewing, printing, agriculture, food production, and hospitality as part of practical learning.

“Through these programmes the school get products which become difficult for the school to advertise and market, so through the relationship we as innobiz have with them, numerous stakeholders have visited the school to see this work and this has led to sales of the products,” Mr. Memela said.

He stated that innobiz also contributes largely to enhancing the work being done by the learners at Ekukhanyeni through the Agri For Kids programme which has enhanced agriculture at the school as part of the learning programmes on offer.

“We enhanced agriculture at the school by donating seedlings, gardening tools, providing trading and also linking it with entrepreneurship.

“The Centre has taught the school entrepreneurship by taking them on an entrepreneurship journey that has enabled them to turn the work done by the learners into a business or to help the learners identify financial value in their product,” Mr. Memela added.

Special thanks to Dr Lavern Samuels , Philiswa Mncube, and Durban University of Technology for the great partnership between Hochschule Flensburg.




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